Yellen upbeat on economy

By Binyamin Appelbaum / New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON — Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve chairwoman, told Congress on Wednesday that the economy is growing at a decent rate and that the Fed intends to continue the stimulus campaign that it considers at least partly responsible.

Central bankers are paid to worry, and Yellen also delivered a laundry list of things that could go wrong: The housing recovery has stalled, geopolitical tensions are rising, some asset prices are perhaps a little too high.

But the overall tenor of her testimony was upbeat. The economy, she said, is shaking off a grim winter. The labor market is slowly improving.

“With the harsh winter behind us, many recent indicators suggest that a rebound in spending and production is already underway, putting the overall economy on track for solid growth in the current quarter,” Yellen told the Joint Economic Committee.

The Fed is steadily cutting its monthly purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities, now at $45 billion a month, and Yellen affirmed that it plans to end those purchases in the fall. The bank must then decide when to start raising short-term interest rates, which it has held near zero since December 2008.